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ETSU begins groundwork for research center

A vote by the Tennessee Board of Regents will draw together East Tennessee State University’s top areas of research into a single center focusing on inflammation, infectious disease and immunity.
The board approved ETSU’s proposal to create the multidisciplinary biomedical research center on June 30.
“Those have been areas of strength at this college for years, but it has been a lot of individual people working on individual projects,” said Dr. David Williams, a professor of surgery at the Quillen College of Medicine and co-director of the new center. “Science today is being done by large groups of people with different areas of expertise focused on a specific problem in society. This center will serve as a catalyst and a platform for doing that here.”
ETSU researchers have been collaborating for years, but the process has been informal.
“The goal is to have people with diverse backgrounds working together on this research. People from other parts of ETSU’s Academic Health Sciences Center and other parts of the university as a whole will be involved in this,” Williams said. “You’ll have all these people under one umbrella and the center will be able to help coordinate their efforts.”
Dr. Robert Means, dean of the College of Medicine, agreed, saying that multidisciplinary research and education are the wave of the future in health science fields.
Another key reason for the center is grant funding.
“The National Institutes of Health emphasizes multidisciplinary research,” said center co-director Dr. Jonathan Moorman, a professor of medicine at ETSU and section chief for infectious diseases at the Quillen VA Medical Center. “They expect it nowadays, so this is really going to strengthen our opportunities for grant funding.”
Williams said the center comes at a time when securing grant funding is harder that it has ever been: “We need to gang up on this problem and work together to obtain research funding. That is the only way we will be competitive when it comes to securing grant money.”
Williams and Moorman will spend about a year establishing the identity of the center, organizing the administrative arm of it, inviting faculty to join and determining how the center will be structured and governed.